So far this school year, Southern Adventist University has distributed more than 40,000 pounds of free food to the local community, feeding approximately 1,400 individuals.
“Food insecurity has grown exponentially because of COVID-19,” said Melissa Moore, director of humanitarian engagement at Southern. “When I heard that one in five adults and one in four children in the Chattanooga, Tenn., area is going hungry, we knew we had to step up.”
While downtown Chattanooga has numerous nonprofits and social service agencies, the area surrounding Southern still faces food insecurity and has fewer food pantries. To address this need, Moore organized a food box distribution site on campus, inviting community members and students to pick up free groceries twice a month.
The day before a distribution, Southern students packed approximately 250 boxes with groceries provided by the Chattanooga Food Bank. Occasionally, humanitarian engagement supplements this with items that are out of stock at the food bank.
On the day of a distribution, volunteers ask each driver a few questions about his or her household size and determine how much food to load into the trunk. The Chattanooga Food Bank has established a set of criteria for eligibility to ensure that those with the greatest need receive the free food. However, so that no one is turned away, Southern students prepare separate boxes for those who do not qualify for the food bank’s free food.
“I have a passion for outreach and evangelism,” said Tracey-Ann Hutchinson, who is currently pursuing her master of science in clinical mental health counseling. “Working with the food box distribution team has been a great experience and testifies to the truth of the Bible where it says, in Acts 20:35, that when we give to others, we ourselves are blessed.”
Southern Adventist University | March 2021